BOSTON – October 12, 2017 – The Massachusetts Health Connector will use standard rates for 2018 Open Enrollment, protecting members from unwarranted premium increases and ensuring stability unless future federal action eliminates Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments.
The Health Connector said last week it was considering two options for Open Enrollment, which starts Nov. 1and runs through Jan. 23, 2018. By using the standard rates option, members will have a typical Open Enrollment experience, although the Health Connector will continue readying a contingency plan if future federal decisions warrant a change.
“We spent significant time over the last few months with the Division of Insurance and our carriers discussing the ramifications of potential federal action cutting off CSR payments in the future, and felt it prudent for now to maintain a steady state for our members,” said Louis Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Connector. “We deeply appreciate the assistance and support we have received throughout this process from the Division of Insurance, our board chair, Secretary Marylou Sudders on behalf of the Baker-Polito Administration, and in particular our ConnectorCare carriers. We will continue to monitor the federal conversation around CSRs and continue to formulate a plan in case that funding is eventually halted.”
The Health Connector estimates calendar year 2018 CSR payments to total $146 million. Governor Baker has consistently encouraged Congress to guarantee the payments as part of a bipartisan market stabilization package. The Health Connector is also pursuing a 1332 waiver that would create a premium stabilization fund to mitigate the loss of CSR payment if necessary.
The Health Connector currently serves more than 253,000 individuals with health insurance, and another 6,000 who get their health insurance through their company and the Health Connector’s small-group platform. About 73,000 people receive dental insurance through the Exchange. New applicants and renewing members can go to the Health Connector’s website, MAhealthconnector.org, starting Nov. 1 to secure coverage for next year.